British human rights lawyer who had been labelled 'anti-China' flees Hong Kong


British human rights lawyer who had been labelled ‘anti-China’ for criticising Hong Kong’s ‘national security’ laws flees the city hours after being summoned for an interview by police

  • Paul Harris had been summoned to a police station in the city’s Wanchai district 
  • The report on Wednesday also carried a second video of Harris at Hong Kong International Airport pushing a trolley with suitcases 
  • Harris was asked by a reporter whether he was afraid of being arrested, but he didn’t comment 
  • Harris confirmed to Reuters in a phone message that he had left the city, but gave no further details 
  • ‘Yes, on way to see my mother in England,’ he said. Harris declined to answer any further questions 


A British human rights lawyer who has been labelled ‘anti-China’ for criticising Hong Kong’s national security laws has fled the city after being summoned for a police interview.   

The Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po reported that Paul Harris had been summoned to a police station in the city’s Wanchai district, with Harris shown walking into the police station in a video posted on its website.

The report on Wednesday also carried a second video of Harris at Hong Kong International Airport pushing a trolley with suitcases. In the video, Harris was asked by a reporter whether he was afraid of being arrested, but he didn’t comment. 

The Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po reported that Paul Harris (pictured) had been summoned to a police station in the city's Wanchai district, with Harris shown walking into the police station in a video posted on its website

The Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po reported that Paul Harris (pictured) had been summoned to a police station in the city’s Wanchai district, with Harris shown walking into the police station in a video posted on its website

The report on Wednesday also carried a second video of Harris at Hong Kong International Airport pushing a trolley with suitcases

The report on Wednesday also carried a second video of Harris at Hong Kong International Airport pushing a trolley with suitcases

Reuters could not confirm when either video was filmed.

Another state-backed newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, said in a separate report on Wednesday that Harris had ‘fled’ Hong Kong after being called in to meet police for an ‘alleged violation’ of the national security law.

Harris confirmed to Reuters in a phone message that he had left the city, but gave no further details.

‘Yes, on way to see my mother in England,’ he said. Harris declined to answer any further questions from Reuters.

Harris stood down in January from the Bar Association, a professional body representing Hong Kong’s 1,500 barristers, without seeking re-election.

Harris’ year-long term was marked by criticism from Hong Kong and Beijing officials who described him as ‘anti-China’, and repeated attacks in state-backed media.

Another state-backed newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, said in a separate report on Wednesday that Harris had 'fled' Hong Kong after being called in to meet police for an 'alleged violation' of the national security law

Another state-backed newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, said in a separate report on Wednesday that Harris had ‘fled’ Hong Kong after being called in to meet police for an ‘alleged violation’ of the national security law

Harris, a senior counsel, had commented on jail terms for several democracy activists last year and the sweeping national security law that China imposed on the city in June 2020.

Two of Harris’ fellow barristers said he had been planning for some time to leave Hong Kong in March, but it was not known for how long.

At the Bar’s in-house election in January, Harris was replaced by fellow barrister Victor Dawes.

Some lawyers see Dawes as a pro-establishment selection after several years of strong stances by the association in the former British colony, whose robust legal system helped make it an attractive international financial centre.

Harris stood down in January from the Bar Association, a professional body representing Hong Kong's 1,500 barristers, without seeking re-election

Harris stood down in January from the Bar Association, a professional body representing Hong Kong’s 1,500 barristers, without seeking re-election

Dawes said at the time his team would work to keep the Bar’s independence and defend human rights if needed as prosecutions moved through courts under the national security law, which came after months of anti-government protests.

The law expands police powers of search and surveillance and punishes acts of subversion, terrorism, collusion with foreign forces and secession with up to life imprisonment.

Harris had been involved in several cases related to the law.

A Bar Association spokesperson said the group was ‘ascertaining the situation and has no comment at this stage’.

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